What the Taliban has up its sleeve
Mullah Omar showed one of his new trump cards: Hundreds of volunteers for suicide bombings. But those jihadis, while fearsome enough, aren't even half of what he has in store for this summer. Hundreds of Taliban have come back from intensive guerilla training in Iraq under the Baathist officers of the Islamic Army of Iraq, bringing with them not only new IED and ambush skills but Iraqi resistance videos showing how it's done. In their camps in Pakistan, the Taliban are also producing videos of their own, which are used to drive home the point of their "night letters" that threaten collaborators of the Kabul regime and the US with a horrible fate. The videos not only show the Taliban's trademark executions but also large numbers of its militants training, thus demonstrating their power. This provides both a credible deterrent against collaborators as well as an incentive to join their ranks, an incentive that is fueling a jihad in the whole Muslim world and not just in Afghanistan. Another Afghan jihad is beginning, but this time the kaffir power who is the target isn't Russia but NATO.
. . . a patrol was ambushed a fortnight ago with rocket-propelled grenades and sustained small arms fire. Six Americans were wounded. Two had their legs blown off. Two more were wounded badly enough to require evacuation to Germany for surgery.
The outcome of the ferocious five-hour battle was predictable enough - withering air power obliterated the Americans' enemies - but not before a US unit had suffered serious casualties and was forced to fall back before a determined enemy assault. A couple of days later nine Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers died when they were ambushed by machine-gun fire as they got down from a truck in Kandahar province - the newly formed ANA's worst-ever combat loss. Then two US marines were killed in a cave where they had insurgents pinned down.
(. . .)
. . . among the 44 dead were Chechens and Pakistanis, feared al-Qa'ida fighters. Other reports indicate that more sophisticated tactics are being used and that new weapons are being smuggled in over the Pakistan border. When a Romanian soldier was killed near Kandahar last month it was a modern anti-tank mine that blew up his armoured personnel carrier, not an improvised bomb or one of the old Soviet landmines that frequently don't work.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban rises again for fighting season
The Independent, May 15, 2005
The jihad isn't just fueled by videos. There's also a large amount of money involved - drug money. In 2001 the Taliban scored an enormous success against narcocrime by slashing opium cultivation by an unprecedented 94%, earning the admiration of the UN's Drug Control Program. The US relied on the non-Pashtun narco-warlords to defeat the Taliban and remained impassive as the poppy fields bloomed once again in the spring of 2002, wishing of course to avoid friction with its narco-warlord allies. Besides, the CIA has always had a fondness for the white poppies and the green coca bush, which have padded more than a few agents' retirement funds, particularly those flying spooks of Vietnam-era Air America and of the Mena, Arkansas cocaine operation of Iran-Contra. Now the CIA's white powders are blowing back in its face. Today the Taliban move freely in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, which are the worlld's opium mecca at the present time, and they reap the profits. That's how they can offer a $5,000 bounty for senior government officials.
Analysts with the federal Integrated Threat Assessment Centre prepared a classified evaluation early last summer spelling out the links between such terrorist activity and the Asian country's vast poppy fields that yield opium, the main ingredient of heroin.
A heavily edited version of the June report, Afghanistan: Narcotics Profits Integral to Militant Attacks, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
"The Afghan narcotics industry is thriving," the report says. "In 2004, 10 per cent of Afghanistan's population, 2.3 million people, were involved in poppy cultivation." The Afghan drug trade was worth $2.8 billion US in 2004, more than doubling in value since 2002, the report notes.
Profits from Afghan poppy crop sowing seeds of terror, CSIS warns The Canadian Press, March 8, 2006
The Karzai regime is trying to run a drug eradication program in the Taliban-controlled provinces to curb the Taliban's cash flow but it's a losing battle against huge resistance. The British regiment that took over the opium province of Helmand would like to concentrate on hearts and minds and avoid challenging the drug warlords who bankroll the Taliban but the Karzai government had other ideas. A vast drug sweep began almost as soon as the British were installed, forcing them to provide supporting fire to the brutal Northern Alliance warlord Daoud. So much for hearts and minds.
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Worsley, the commander of British troops in Helmand, did not disguise his concern that the operation could provoke an angry backlash. He was at pains to emphasise that British forces had no part in the eradication process.
"I'm afraid that the eradication has started too late. There is no system in place to help poor farmers make up for the loss of their poppy crops," he said. "The main point we want to drive home is that British soldiers are not involved."
However, General Daud said that once the British contingent was assembled this year it would have a great role, indirectly, to play in future eradication. The British air assault force, led by the Parachute Regiment, will support Afghan troops, who will in turn be responsible for reimposing central authority over Helmand and ridding the province of its drug culture.
Poppy crop destruction sows discord for British The Times, March 8, 2006
Pakistan: Puppet or puppeteer?
If the Taliban only had the support of local narco-warlords and a few Gulf sheiks, NATO might still have a chance. But it's worse than that. The Taliban has a major state sponsor, a nuclear power and a "major non-NATO ally" of the US: the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the US-backed military dictatorship that acts as a flimsy containment vessel for a fissile mixture of jihadi politics, warlike Pashtun tribes, Kashmiri guerillas, nuclear weapons dealers, and the impenetrable and redoubtable schemes of the ISI.
Pakistan is now seen by the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai as a hostile power. Mullah Mujadeddi, who narrowly escaped a car-bomb assassination attempt in Kabul, told the media that it was the work of the Pakistani ISI. The ongoing border clashes between Taliban forces based in Pakistan and US-Karzai regime forces are punctuated by accusations by Kabul that Pakistan is refusing to take action against the Taliban's bases in spite of intelligence provided by Kabul on their exact location. Islamabad pretends that Kabul's intelligence is "outdated" or inaccurate. If the ISI is moving these bases when they are discovered by Kabul, the Pakis might not be lying, strictly speaking.
If we recall the CIA's anti-Soviet jihad, neither the CIA's $60 billion nor the sponsorship of Pakistan were decisive factors in the CIA's victory over Soviet forces. What tilted the scales was the introduction of the Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft missile against which Soviet countermeasures were ineffective. Jihadis with Stingers ended Soviet air superiority over the Afghan theater, where the mountain peaks were bristling with the jihadis' anti-aircraft guns and missiles. Today, the US still has air supremacy over both Iraq and Afghanistan but Pakistan is trying to do something about it:
14 March 2006
American and Nato forces are following up reports that the Taliban have received vital components for shoulder-fired Stinger missiles from Pakistani officials enabling them to be used against helicopters in Afghanistan. It is claimed that the missiles have been fitted with new battery packs allegedly provided by the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, in the past four months.
Western sources say they are not sure whether the supplies, needed to make the US-made missiles operational, were provided by rogue elements within the Pakistani secret service, or approved at a high level.
However, the effect of re-arming the Stingers could be to make Nato aircraft vulnerable while Britain is deploying almost 6,000 soldiers in southern Afghanistan. It is believed that the battery packs had been fitted in between 18 and 20 heat-seeking Stingers which can hit targets at around 12,000 feet. They are reported to have been handed over in the Quetta region in Pakistan known to be used by the Taliban to launch attacks in southern Afghanistan.
The US has fallen into the same trap that it set for the Soviets, and the long-suffering Afghans will again be the pawns in the Great Game of controlling the strategic center of Eurasia, Afghanistan. The US's clumsily improvised plans for post-Taliban Afghanistan are falling apart, with its narco-warlords gravitating back to the Taliban and its erstwhile puppet Pakistan now pulling the strings. Like the Soviets, the US is pulling its troops out of the quagmire. But unlike the Soviets, who never asked their Warsaw Pact allies to take a bullet in their place, the US is throwing NATO to the lions to make its escape look like a voluntary decision and not a forced rout.